(Honolulu, HI) As a journalist, and mind you, this is my blog, so I am not purporting to play one right now – I am appalled at how the media are inserting their remarks over the Manti Te’o hoax that has spun out of control. Following each news account that airs on TV news, reporters and hosts take a stab at editorializing, mixing facts and opinion during chit chant segments. News reports are supposed to be based on facts, not BIASED with facts.
What Others Are Saying About Manti Te’o
ABC’s Katie Couric and ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap emerged from their exclusive Te’o interviews, both convinced that the Notre Dame star was genuinely the victim of a hoax, “He was naive, but believable,” they say.
Yet, FOX News Anchor Shepard Smith (whom I started my TV news career with in Panama City, Florida in the early ’80s), ESPN’s Steven A. Smith, a host of other high-profile journalists and guest commentators (too many to name) find it “strange” that the most popular athlete and big man on campus at Notre Dame resorted to an online girlfriend when he could have had live relationships all along? “This is peculiar,” they say and make no mention of Manti Te’o’s morals or the fact that he is a bright scholar-athlete who is devoted to his values, school, and football.
Enough is enough! It is time we speak out in Manti Te’o’s defense. We are living in an online world and it is difficult for others to comprehend that the younger generation communicates and dates through social media. The news industry downplays the horrific experience that Te’o has gone through, both emotionally and mentally. Can you imagine your child living a dreadful nightmare of public scrutiny perpetuated night after night that never goes away?
How I Know Manti Te’o
Let me shed some light on this. Manti Te’o is a personal friend. Like President Obama, he graduated from the most prestigious Hawaii school, Punahou. My child is one of his schoolmates and best friends. I respect his parents greatly, Brian and Ottilia Te’o, and worked closely with his father’s mother in the late ‘90s.
He comes from a religious stock, a proud culture, whose expectations of him and protecting his last name are highly regarded. He is a young respectable gentlemen who takes great pride in obeying his parents.
The country witnessed this Laie, Hawaii boy’s loyalty to his parents when he spoke to Katie Couric on January 24. He gave candid answers that matched perfectly with what he told Schaap the week before, yet skeptics today are still not satisfied.
I could tell that the talk show host had already made up her mind going into the interview with her negative body language, eyebrow crunching, and voice intonations as Couric attempted to make the football star say that he lied.
I thought Couric was rather biased and insulting at times during that interview, but since then, Couric has come out saying that she believes Te’o was indeed a victim. National headlines followed Couric’s show with a promoted theme that “Manti Te’o lied.” That’s not what we heard in the interview! He said, “I wasn’t as forthcoming about it, but I didn’t lie.” Remember, he was still unsure if his girlfriend was alive or dead on December 6, when he got the call from the alleged perpetrator. Te’o went on to say, “I was never asked. ‘Did you see her in person?’ That embarrassment [of not meeting her]… scared me.”
While the Laie resident did admit briefly lying to his father regarding meeting “Lennay Kekua,” Te’o’s quotes hit the Associated Press like wildfire. Journalists across the country started re-writing their copy and all of a sudden, the theme changed. There are few reports of Hawaii’s Island Son being painted as a victim in this horrendous prank.
The fact is, “truth” or “goodness” does not sell as well as the bad boy or dishonest image. You show me a child who has not been forthcoming at one time or another. Manti Te’o is not perfect, but I know him to be an obedient child and a loving son.
Why is it so difficult for some people to believe that this young man who holds strong morals is able to develop a genuine relationship online? Journalists poke fun of Te’o’s “imaginary girlfriend” but there was nothing imaginary about the texts, voice messages from a female and hundreds of hours of phone calls logged. These records and events eventually turned into tragedy, heartache, and deceit for the Te’o family.
Do you think that a bright Punahou kid would deliberately put himself through all these twists and turns for more than a year? You recall reports following the death of his grandmother and supposed death of his girlfriend last September 12, of how the linebacker erupted in anger with others to witness his grief?
It is preposterous to even think that there are people out there who still believe Te’o perpetuated the hoax for personal gain. Facts outweigh multiple theories circulating, with so many people who have come forward saying they too spoke to Lennay Kekua, including Te’o’s Mormon bishop and best friends.
In my personal opinion, Manti Te’o is guilty of following the teachings of his parents by reaching out to those who are in need just as any LDS kid would. In this case, he found peace and comfort with a young lady whom he connected with as his soul mate, and whom he believed battled cancer and faced death in the eye.
Manti Te’o’s Parents Reaction
His mother Ottilia Te’o explained it best to Couric, “He did exactly what I would expect a responsible, respectable young man to do, to extend himself to someone who said that they lost their father and now they have cancer. It just hurts to see, you know, his picture and his name being displayed as someone that is dishonest.” Why can’t we give Manti Te’o credit for his compassion and heart of gold?
Why isn’t anyone talking about Brian Te’o’s Christian gestures of reaching out through an intermediary to the alleged perpetrator’s family? He sent words of comfort from parent to parent, rather than slap the alleged hoaxter(s) with a messy lawsuit? Perhaps because that would be a story of goodly parents, which isn’t quite as sensational as the news angles journalists prefer to cover today.
No harsh words of bitterness are uttered out of the mouths of the Te’os despite the agonizing pain they have suffered. They instead preach of love, forgiveness, and family loyalty. “Children, listen to your parents,” uttered Manti Te’o to Couric and her live audience. But we are not going to see those quotes much in print. The media prefer talking about fake girlfriends, timelines, and the sensational aspects of this story.
Manti Te’o: A Resilient Young Warrior
Fact is, they are missing the real story of a humble, Christian athlete who wears a Choose The Right (CTR) ring, reads scriptures, adores his parents, and became a loyal, loving friend to some very sick prankster(s) who lost control of reality.
The Eagle Scout earned his wings by achieving the ultimate Boy Scout award. Te’o garnered his accolades because of hard work, dedication to football, loyalty to his parents, and faith in God. He did not need a sensational story to win those awards. He is a decorated athlete both in high school and college. His grandmother’s death was tragic enough. His father, Brian, reared a son with solid principles, trained him every step of the way, and was the driving force behind the scholar-athlete turned college football-great.
The facts are clear, yet harsh judgments have been made in the court of public opinion. The story too sensational to concoct, too complicated to understand and revelations keep popping up daily, blow by blow.
This has been an exhausting and confusing roller coaster that has taken a toll on the emotions of a family who has worked very hard throughout their lives to keep away from controversy, protect their last name and reputation. If the pressure is enough to make our blood boil and cause our blood pressure to rise, can you imagine what the Te’o family is going through?
I know Manti Te’o as a humble, respectful, loyal, and dedicated kid who through these trying times has emerged as a resilient young warrior. He could have easily crawled under a rock and broke down, but he hasn’t. The Hawaiian-born Heisman runner-up comes from a strong foundation who continues to garner the support of his Punahou and church friends. They stand behind him with unwavering faith, while Manti Te’o continues to strengthen and inspire those around him with his trials and tribulations.
Will Manti Te’o’s Hometown of Laie Attract Potential Home Buyers?
Now, on to real estate (after all, this is a real estate blog). Laie, Hawaii has certainly been swarmed by journalists and is garnering national attention after the media found out that the North Shore community is Manti Te’o’s hometown. Will it attract potential home buyers? Stay tuned.
Here are two homes for sale in Laie:
1. 55-1116 Naupaka Street B. This is 3 bed/2 bath home with 1,456 sq.ft. of living space. It is currently listed at $858,880. Enjoy ocean and mountain views from many rooms and from the covered lanai. This home has a great kitchen with stainless steel appliances and is a short distance away from a sandy beach. This home is in “move in” condition.
55-1116 Naupaka Street B (MLS# 1202758)
2. 55-074 Naupaka Street. This is a 4 bed/2 bath home with 1,248 sq.ft. of living space. It is currently listed at $799,000. This lot sits high above the neighborhood and is steps from private neighborhood beach access. The home also boasts panoramic ocean views.
55-074 Naupaka Street (MLS# 1210875)